Last updated on May 31st, 2019 at 11:25 am
The Baltic Countries, popular for their picturesque surroundings and historical beginnings, is a very charming route for a lot of travelers to take. If you’ve ever planned to travel to the Baltic countries and haven’t done so until now, below we wrote 10 reasons to tempt you to finally nail that schedule and travel next with this Baltic countries travel guide.
Have you ever considered visiting the Baltic countries? I’ve visited the Baltic countries twice and I will give you 10 reasons why you should do the same. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, all of them are worth to visit. There are great people, nice cities, beautiful beaches and breathtaking landscapes in the Baltic countries. If you are visiting the Baltic countries in summer, it will be crowded but you will find an amazing nightlife. Also, every country is full of history, new food to try an a lot of interesting things to do.
Baltic Countries Travel Guide
How to get to the Baltic Countries
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are all members of the Schengen Agreement. Therefore, a Schengen visa is a must for everyone planning a trip to these countries. For more details on how to travel in the Schengen area, click here.
To get to Estonia, one must take a plan to Tallinn, the nation’s capital. There are daily direct flights to the city from major Scandinavian and Baltic cities, as well as London, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Prague and Moscow. There are flights available in those countries from airlines like easyJet, Lufthansa, KLM, Finnair and more. A roundtrip flight between London and Tallinn may cost as low as 120 EUR (or 18 GBP).
The Riga International Airport in Latvia accepts flights through carriers like airBaltic and Wizz Air. If you’re coming from New York, expect to pay no more than $250 USD for the cheapest flights to Riga. You can always check SkyScanner.com for available flights.
Those making their way to Lithuania will most probably book flights to Vilnius Airport. However, there is also the option to land at Kaunas International Airport as budget airlines like Ryanair choose to land here. From NYC, you can get a ticket to Kaunas for as low as $330 USD.
It’s very easy to travel from one Baltic country to another via bus. There are also plenty of cheap connections (especially from Estonia) to and from other European cities like Moscow, Kiev, Warsaw through Ecolines, Eurolines Simple Express and Eurolines Lux Express. Trips from Tallinn to Moscow on the Lux Express costs 55 EUR and comes with free Wi-Fi, power supplies and touch screen media systems.
Like riding the bus, you also have many options when it comes to traveling on a train around the Baltic countries. From Kaunas you can connect to Minsk, there are trips from Riga to Saint Petersburg, and Moscow is accessible from Tallinn.
Riding a boat is another excellent way to go around Europe. You can travel to the Baltic countries from their European neighbors like Sweden, Finland, Poland, Germany and Denmark.
Best time to visit the Baltic Countries
The weather in all Baltic countries is greatly influenced by the Baltic Sea, especially cities on the coast like Riga, Tallinn and Klaipeda. These areas have maritime climates. On the other hand, continental climates are experienced in the Eastern and Western parts of the Baltic countries, like in Vilnius and Tartu. Summer and spring are generally the best time to visit the Baltic countries. May and June are the sunniest months of the year while the summer months of July and August are quite mild. October is the best time to visit the Baltic countries for bird watchers to admire migratory birds.
Going in winter has its advantages too. For one thing, hotel prices are much cheaper during this low season. There’s also the opportunity for cross country skiing in the hills of Southern Estonia. Nights are long and there’s plenty of snow from December to March, but there are nice ice skating rinks and saunas to keep you warm.
Transportation around the Baltic Countries
Train networks in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are easy to use and very accessible. Many locals rely on the train for their commutes as these lines travel all around the country. Aside from commuter lines, long distance travels can also be undertaken through the train. In Estonia, you can go from Tallinn to other cities like Narva and Valga. From Riga in Latvia, it is more convenient to go to the towns of Daugavpils, Jelgava, Rezekne and many others through the train. Litrail is used in Lithuania to travel major cities or go to remote towns that are inaccessible with other modes of transport. A train ride from Vilnius to Kaunas only costs 5.20 EUR.
There won’t be any trouble traveling around the major cities of the Baltic countries as bus networks here are very reliable. You can buy tickets at the station, as you board or online. In Lithuania, it is especially easier to go around by bus as the system reaches all the destinations you’d want to visit. There are intercity, suburban and cross-country buses all around these territories.
In Lithuania, cycling is pretty popular. Many of the major cities have pathways and there are two international cycling routes in the country. In Estonia and Latvia, caution must be exercised when biking around major cities, especially when there’s plenty of traffic on the road. Heavy traffic starts at around 5 PM to 8 PM, and its always best to just go cycling early in the morning.
Other ways to go around Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania include riding a tax, renting a car and even hitchhiking. In fact, the Baltic countries have a strong hitchhiking culture and are some of the friendliest places to try it. Click here to see our complete guide to hitchhiking!
Daily Budget to visit the Baltic Countries
The Euro is used in all Baltic nations, yet daily expenses here are much cheaper than those in Spain, France or Germany. You can enjoy many things to do in the Baltic countries with their low cost of living. Your daily budget will cover the food, accommodation, transportation and entrance fees. A bed in a dorm typically costs around 10 EUR, while budget rooms can go for 25 EUR. AirBnB is also available in the Baltic countries. You can click here to get 25 EUR free credit for your first AirBnB booking! You can also get excellent deals on accommodations in the Baltic Countries through Booking and Agoda.
Domestic buses in the Baltic countries are often used and can be afforded at 15 EUR. If you’re traveling cross-country, expect to pay 20 EUR for a 5-hour trip. Baltic cuisine is unique in itself but is heavily influenced by Eastern Europe and Nordic countries. A hearty meal costs around 6-8 EUR while mid-range restaurants charge around 15 EUR. For the budget-conscious, street food and fast food are available for less than 3 EUR. A bottle of beer can go for as low as 1-3.50 EUR, depending on where you plan to drink one.
Great news: there are plenty of free walking tours in Riga, Tallinn and Vilnius! If you’re planning to visit museums, expect to pay not much more than 5 EUR. All in all, you won’t have to spend more than 5-10 EUR daily to experience all the enjoyable things to do in the Baltic countries.
10 reasons why you should visit the Baltic Countries now
The capital of Lithuania has the old town and the new town – both of which show really great parts and characteristics of the city. When it comes to the architecture, I actually prefer the old town buildings. Traveling around Vilnius, you’ll definitely feel the vibe of the history surrounding it, what with all the historical places and the curated museums to visit. We recommend visiting the Gediminas Tower in Vilnius, which is very close from the city center. A quick walk of about 15-20 minutes from the city center will take you to the best views Vilnius has to offer.
The Trakai Island Castle is one of the most popular destinations in Lithuania for locals and foreigners alike. It’s just a half hour trip by car or by train from Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. And because it is a very touristic and historic place, you will find that it’s always full of visitors. You’ll definitely love to have a tour inside the castle and you can even take amazing pictures before crossing the bridge to the castle. If you are lucky to visit during pleasant weather, you can even enjoy the lakes around Trakai. The place is perfect for a wonderful afternoon.
3. Lithuanian beer
When I visit a new country, my favorite things to do are meeting local people and visiting different places. But I also love trying local beers. I tried Estonian and Latvian beers, and they were so good. But my favorite beers were definitely the ones from Lithuania. The best thing about local beers is that if you are traveling on a tight budget, you can still try them. The ones in the Baltic countries are the cheapest in Europe, and you can find beers at the bar for less than 2 EUR per bottle, which is definitely a bargain in Europe.
Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia. It’s a medieval location and you will enjoy walking around the downtown area. There are some interesting museums to explore here. There are also modern parts of the city and nice parks for you to enjoy. My favorite thing in Estonia was the nightlife. Bars and restaurants were full of people. If you want to have an amazing view of the city, you should go to the Kohtuotsa viewing platform. You will see the views with San Olaf Tower in the middle of the landscape. Tallin is only 3 hours by ferry from Finland, if you want to visit Scandinavian countries. And if you want to know more things to do in Tallinn, check out this article.
Klaipeda is a popular port city located in the Baltic sea and is the third largest city in Lithuania. Klaipeda is great place for walking around. and taking in wonderful sights. I was even surprised by how nice their beaches were. You will find long stretches of white sand and very clear and warm waters in Klaipeda. If you visit the city in the summer, you can enjoy the beach during the day and then enjoy nightlife as it goes dark.
The capital of Latvia is Riga, a city that is a great mix of old and new. This is also where you can find beautiful Art Nouveau architecture. There are many things to do in Riga during the day like walking around downtown and visiting parks. There are many interesting museums related to World War II, if you are interested in history or you want to get to know the country deeper. At night, you should checkout how great the nightlife is in Riga. I recommend a visit to the House of Blackheads which is next to the City Hall. I liked their facade a lot. I enjoyed looking around and taking pictures all around Riga during the day and even at night time.
I tried different dishes while visiting the Baltic countries. If I need to choose one, Potato and Groats Porridge from Estonia was my favorite. Potatoes and barley groats are boiled inside the pot. After boiling, they mash the potatoes and add salt and pepper. And it can be serve with salad or bacon, or any pairing of your choice. Food is very affordable in the Baltic countries!
I love traveling by hitchhiking because you will make new friends and meeting local people. When I was hitchhiking in the Baltic countries, it was working great and it was even faster than public transportation. People are very friendly and they are happy to help you. It was really easy to cover 300 kilometers distance in 4-5 hours. I didn’t stay more than half an hour waiting for a ride. If you have never tried hitchhiking and you want to know more about it, make sure that you read our full guide about hitchhiking around the world.
9. Luxury day
Why not spend a great day of peace and luxury in a hotel? It can give you the rest that you need from traveling hard. These luxury hotels were made for you to get your much deserved Me Time! After all, it’s good to see different perspectives during your travels! I did this in Riga and I had an amazing experience staying at Gallery Park Hotel and Spa. If you want to know more details, read this post and you will discover if this fancy place is for you.
Narva is the third largest city in Estonia and everyone here speaks Russian because the city is just by the border. One of my favorite borders to cross overland is from Estonia to Russia. There are two nice castles in the city separated by the Narva River, and I really enjoyed going around Narva during my visits to the Baltic countries. Narva was my last stop before visiting Russia. It was even worth it to visit the Chemical Lake which is a few minutes of driving away from Narva. It will make you feel like you are at a Caribbean beach–well, just without the swimming part! Haha 😉
Music Festivals in the Baltic Countries
Baltic Sea Festival
Using music as a platform to affect environmental change, the territories in the Baltic region worked together to create the Baltic Sea Festival. The Royal Swedish Opera along with choirs, soloists, jazz and folkton musicians perform during this week-long event in the concert hall called Berwaldhallen. The festival seeks to boost awareness of environmental problems in the Baltic Sea and to educate people on what needs to be done to preserve this gift from Mother Nature. It’s truly a party for a cause.
Celeberated in Tallinn, Estonia is Õllesummer, another iconic music festival in the Baltic area. Unlike the more formal Baltic Sea Festival, Õllesummer caters to a younger crowd with contemporary performances from Franz Ferdinand from the UK, Arop, 5Minust, La La Ladies, Rainer Ild, and many other local acts. The festival takes place in July and last for 3 days. Tickets prices range from 17-94 EUR.
Latvia’s version of a culture and music festival is Positivus, a three-day event that unites different genres into one huge production. It is one of the best summer music festivals in all of Europe, similar to Coachella, and is attended by people from all over the continent. The first Positivus Festival was held in 2007 and since then it has grown bigger, with international acts like Muse, OK Go, Ellie Goulding, Iggy Pop, The XX, Sigur Ros and many more gracing its stage. There are camping sites in the festival, making this event even more fun and outrageous.
Now, you heard what I have to say! Did you enticed to travel and see the Baltic countries? How did you like our Baltic countries travel guide? Tell us what you have to say in the comments down below! Have your own Baltic countries experience? Share them because we definitely love to hear more. 😉
AirBnB is also available in the Baltic countries. You can click here to get 25 EUR free credit for your first AirBnB booking!
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